Feeds

Apple: 'Average' iPad toiler does a mere 46-hour week

Cupertino vows fresh probe into latest claims of labour rights' abuses

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Apple is under fire again after a new China Labor Watch report accused its factories of committing nearly 90 workers' rights violations.

This time iPhone and iPad fabs operated by Taiwanese manufacturing giant Pegatron are facing the allegations, rather than Foxconn. Apple today confirmed to The Reg that it will immediately investigate the report's findings.

Human rights group China Labor Watch sent undercover investigators into three Pegatron facilities – Pegatron Shanghai, its subsidiary Riteng also based in the city, and Suzhou-based subsidiary AVY – and conducted 200 interviews with employees outside the plants.

Its new report Apple’s Unkept Promises [PDF] alleges 86 labour rights violations including hiring discrimination, underage labour, insufficient wages, poor working and living conditions and environmental pollution.

It claims Pegatron breaks Apple’s Supplier Responsibility code of conduct, highlighting 17 “promises” it believes are not being kept.

For example, Apple insists 92 per cent of its supply chain complies with a 60-hour maximum working week rule. However China Labor Watch alleged the average in the three plants it investigated was at least 66 hours - and further claimed pregnant women were forced to work the same hours despite Chinese law limiting them to eight hours each day.

In response, Apple told El Reg in a statement (published in full here):

We have closely tracked working hours at all of these facilities. Our most recent survey in June found that Pegatron employees making Apple products worked 46 hours per week on average. Excessive overtime is not in anyone's best interest.

The China Labor Watch dossier also claims that despite Apple’s promise to have stamped out discriminatory hirings in its supply chain, Pegatron factories still have on display a list of criteria that includes a refusal to employ anyone under 4ft 11in, those older than 35, people with tattoos, or those of Hui, Tibetan or Uyghur heritage.

Staff turnover is pretty high, we're told: 30 in every 110 new recruits at AVY leave in a two-week period. The investigators' report further claimed:

Apple has zero tolerance for lapses in the quality of its products. If a quality issue arises, Apple will do everything it can to have it corrected immediately. But a lower level of urgency apparently applies in responding to labour rights abuses. Despite its professed high standards for the treatment of Apple workers, serious labour violations have persisted year after year. Apple must prioritise its efforts into halting the abuse of the workers making Apple products.

Up until now most of the heat on Apple's supply chain has centred on the working conditions at its Foxconn plants. That extensive bad publicity eventually led to a landmark deal between the fruity tech titan, the Taiwanese super-manufacturer and the global non-profit Fair Labor Association (FLA) to improve standards in a specific group of factories.

Although abuses are still being reported, progress appears to have been made at Foxconn: rights groups admit the electronics giant offers Chinese workers some of the best pay and conditions among technology manufacturers.

However, Pegatron has won large chunks of Apple’s business: Pegatron Shanghai is the second largest supply factory in China for Cupertino, and reportedly bagged the contract to build the new low-cost iPhone.

This isn't the first time Apple's Pegatron plants have come in for criticism either. An explosion at Riteng in December 2011 injured 61 workers and put 23 of them in hospital.

"The latest [China Labor Watch] report contains claims that are new to us and we will investigate them immediately. Our audit teams will return to Pegatron, RiTeng and AVY for special inspections this week," the Apple spokesman added to The Reg.

Meanwhile, Pegatron told Reuters it would "investigate the matter and would take immediate action to correct any violations of Chinese labour laws and its own code of conduct". The manufacturer's CEO Jason Cheng said: "We take these allegations very seriously." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.